Virginia Tech PowerMac G5 Cluster Photos

Jeffrey B. Layton laytonjb at
Sat Sep 20 17:48:52 EDT 2003

Robert G. Brown wrote:

>On Sat, 20 Sep 2003, Jeffrey B. Layton wrote:
>>take at least 92 racks!
>>Yep, inexpensive, _custom_ racks (as much an oxymoron
>>as military intelligence as I've heard). If they charge $1000
>>a rack (pretty cheap IMHO), then there's almost $1 million
>Ummm, 92 x 1000 = ?
>Don't feel bad.  I do the same thing all the time.

Sorry. Homer Simpson moment.

>>for the racks out of a stated $5 million. OK, should we have
>>a pool or a poll on who's bankrolling this thing?
>Somebody with very deep pockets.  Liquid cooled racks are probably a lot
>more expensive than $1000 each, but one really should likely lump the
>power, cooling, racks, and room all together as "base infrastructure"
>and sure, $1M isn't a crazy estimate for that.
>That leaves $4M for systems and (possibly) for humans, service
>agreements, electricity, and more.
>The power capacity also does not compute wrt their existing
>configuration.  1000 300W nodes is only 300 KW.  Even if the nodes run
>at 500W each (which would be insanely hot IMHO at 250 W/processor --
>about as much as a loaded dual athlon PER PROCESSOR, and enough to make
>even an Alpha seem cool) it is only 500 KW.  Add half again for AC and
>miscellaneous, and they are still only up to 750 KW (which costs them
>roughly $500,000/year as an ongoing operating expense.  They've got a
>factor of four surplus power capacity (if not more like six).  They must
>be planning ahead to upgrade those racks with real rackmounts at
>quadruple the power/compute density during the lifetime of the facility.
>Assuming a three year grant cycle, $2M for infrastructure and power and
>(probably) salaries, they've got $3M left for nodes, which works out
>order of $3K/node.  This doesn't sound too insane, but I don't really
>know the prices of these nodes.
>Apple has been pushing these nodes for doing bioinformatics and gene
>cataloguing, so my dollar is on NIH.  I doubt NSA or DOE or NSF -- its a
>bit rich for NSF, DOE tends to be conservative, NSA tends to run their
>own stuff.  DOD is always a possibility, but any of the latter agencies
>I think would be less inclined to fund an Apple cluster with such a
>ticklish (liquid cooled) base design.  Whoever it is, they expect to go
>back to the well, I betcha, when rackmounts become available, or else
>their architect's brother sells big generators and overkill facilities

I wasn't thinking so much about NIH, but rather an individual running a
company. Perhaps a couple of companies? The notes I saw said it was
a collection from several schools within the university. Anyway, it's
always fun to speculate (heck, those old retired guys get _paid_ to do it
on TV everytime we have a war or a crisis). When RGB starts his new
clothing line, perhaps I'll take up beowulf fashion commentary :)



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